Picks and Pans Review: Nothin'but the Blues

updated 03/18/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/18/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

Joe Williams

Thirty years ago Joe Williams put the Basie band back on the charts with his big-voiced declaration, Every Day I Have the Blues. He's still got 'em. At 66, his voice has lost some of the velvety power that made his 1955 performance—as well as an equally fine 1957 album of standards with Basie—a marvel of romanticism and propulsive authority. But his bottom tones are still as capacious and oaken as a rain barrel, and at the end of In the Evening/Rocks in My Bed he slides slowly into those tones within a long, luxurious glissando. And his five bars of falsetto, just before that swoon into the bass are supple and effortless. In between those extremes Joe has a ball, whether waxing enthusiastic over a none-too-loyal lover in his own Who She Door recounting a series of Mittyesque fantasies in Big Bill Broonzy's Just a Dream. More casual and spontaneous than in his 1957 standards set, he winningly plays the lovable rascal. His accompanists are billed as "All-Stars," and for once it's no hyperbole. Standouts include Ray Brown's nudging bass, Brother Jack McDuff's cave-like low notes on organ and leader Red Holloway's preaching tenor sax. Holloway's solo on In the Evening/Rocks in My Bed is worth the price of the album itself. (Delos Records, Santa Monica, Calif.)

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